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NATIONAL REPORT — Various convenience store chains' plans for growth were among the stories important to CSNews Online readers last month. In the latest Industry Roundup, we present the top 10 most-read stories for the month of January, based on reader views:
1) PMI Reports More Than 1M Smokers Converted to iQOS
Philip Morris International Inc. reaffirmed its commitment to a smoke-free future with a new website that provides a look at the company's vision and how its new products can have a significant impact on adult smokers and society. More than one million smokers have already converted to iQOS, its electronically heated tobacco product, the company said.
2) Get to Know The Future Consumption Beverage Shopper
New research by The Coca-Cola Co. Knowledge & Insights group identifies aspects of the future consumption beverage shopper, an important customer for convenience stores and any retailer with a significant packaged beverage section, according to the company. Compared to the average convenience retail shopper, the future consumption beverage convenience retail shopper is more likely to be a younger male, Hispanic and married; be from a larger household; be the primary grocery shopper for the household; and prepare for the trip with a shopping app.
3) Break Time Entering New Markets With New Store Concept
The 5,000-square-foot location in the Kansas City suburb is the first store to incorporate Break Time's new logo and accompanying graphics. In addition to a fresh look, designers developed a store layout with an open, customer-centric floor plan that prominently features a new carryout food concept with an established area barbecue restaurant.
4) Enhancement & Expansion
After a period of challenges, companies in the Convenience Store News Top Wholesalers ranking staged something of a comeback over the past year. These 25 companies achieved a combined sales increase of 4.1 percent, more than double the 1.7 percent posted in last year’s report. Sales reached $68.2 billion, with the top 10 companies driving almost 90 percent of this total.
5) 22nd Century Group Makes Progress on Modified Risk
22nd Century Group Inc. is seeing some forward progress on its modified risk tobacco product applications (MRTPAs) currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company reported that it has received "helpful and positive feedback" on its combined MRTPAs and premarket tobacco product applications for its "Brand A" Very Low Nicotine tobacco cigarettes.
6) The 2017 Forecast for Beverages
While convenience stores are evolving in terms of the products and services they offer consumers, they remain a primary destination for those who want to make a quick beverage purchase. Seven in 10 retailers (70.6 percent) expect their packaged beverage sales to increase in 2017, and only 2.9 percent expect sales to decrease. The projected net change is 3.3 percent, according to the findings of the 15th annual Convenience Store News Forecast Study.
7) The 2017 Forecast for Snacks
Widely viewed as an afternoon indulgence, salty snacks — which include potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, ready-to-eat popcorn, nuts and seeds — experienced 4.3-percent growth in total industry dollar sales in 2016 (estimated). This metric is forecasted to increase 5.7 percent in 2017. On a per-store basis, unit volume is forecasted to rise, however at a slower pace; by 2.8 percent this year vs. an even 2 percent in 2016.
8) RaceTrac Doubling Down on Florida Expansion
The Atlanta-based retailer closed out 2016 by adding 24 new convenience stores in Florida. The new locations brought its portfolio in the Sunshine State to 207. That accounts for nearly half of RaceTrac's 435-plus store count that also includes locations in Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.
9) Rutter's New Way to Put Snack Sales in the Bag
Developed with a company that offers state-of-the-art packaging, the Rutter's-branded bag is breathable, microwavable and resealable, holds heat well, and has a handle for optimum convenience and freshness. "I think it's a breakthrough, and I don't say that all the time," Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice for Rutter's, told Convenience Store News. He noted that the difference between what the bag offers vs. what packaging was previously on the market is "worlds apart."
10) Pilot Flying J, Kroger Help Launch Groundbreaking Retail Program
Convenience retailers are joining with the National Retail Federation (NRF) and other merchants on a new training initiative designed to help people pursue opportunities in retail. The NRF Foundation brought together dozens of retailers and nonprofits to launch RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills & Education), which is designed by the industry to assist people — regardless of education, background, economic means or age — to acquire the skills they need to secure jobs in retail and advance into promising careers.